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D'Backs Venom - An Arizona Diamondbacks Blog | Page 11
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Written by Amit Lal | 23 October 2011

Coming into the 2011 season, the big question was how would the Diamondbacks' offense perform without slugging infielders Adam LaRoche and Mark Reynolds? They were expected to be replaced by Juan Miranda and Melvin Mora, which seemed like a certain downgrade from 2010. But the offensive results were much better than expected, partly due to strong seasons from Justin Upton and Miguel Montero as well as breakouts from Ryan Roberts and Gerardo Parra. Overall, the team ended up scoring 18 more runs in 2011 than in 2010, even though offense around the league was down significantly. How did this happen? It turns out that the answer is probably not because of better clutch hitting, fewer strikeouts, or more productive outs. The team scored more runs in 2011 because of better baserunning.

Year R/G AVG OBP SLG OPS+ R HR SB/CS BB K
2011 4.51 (4th) .250 .322 .413 99 (4th) 731 172 133/44 531 1249
2010 4.40 (8th) .250 .325 .416 94 (7th) 713 180 86/41 589 1529

 

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Written by Amit Lal | 19 October 2011

The Major League Baseball season is still in its final week, but several Fall and Winter Leagues have already begun. The Diamondbacks have 7 players in the Arizona Fall League, 5 in the Venezuelan Winter League, 5 in the Dominican Winter League, and 2 in the Mexican Winter League. Plus, they also have 1 player traveling to Taiwan for the MLB Exhibition Tour, and 1 playing for Team USA in the Pan Am Games. Let's see how they are doing so far.

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Written by Amit Lal | 16 October 2011

Continuing our recap of the 2011 Arizona Diamondbacks' season (Overview, Bullpen), this article looks at the starting pitching. As a group, the starters improved from a 49-65 record with a 4.40 ERA in 2010 to a 71-54 mark in 2011 with an ERA of 3.84. The highlight of the 2011 rotation was the emergence of Ian Kennedy as a serious Cy Young contender, as he finished the year at 21-4 with a 2.88 ERA.  Another bright spot was the development of Josh Collmenter, who made the jump from AA all the way to the #3 starter in the postseason. The team greatly benefited from good health from its top 4 pitchers, as Kennedy, Daniel Hudson, Collmenter, and Joe Saunders were able to take the ball every fifth day. The only real problem with the starting rotation was the #5 slot, as the team shuffled different pitchers through that position all season. Let's take a closer look at the performance of the starters in 2011.

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Written by Amit Lal | 12 October 2011

The Diamondbacks improved by 29 games from 2010 to 2011, and the biggest area of improvement was in the bullpen.  The 2010 bullpen was one of the worst in baseball history, but the 2011 version actually was a strength for the team. As a group, the 2011 bullpen allowed 100 fewer runs than the 2010 group, in the same number of innings, bringing the ERA down from 5.74 to 3.71.

Year W L ERA Saves BS IP H ER K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABIP
2010 - Pen 16 32 5.74 35 24 439.0 485 280 6.79 4.59 1.27 .314
2011 - Pen 23 14 3.71 58 13 439.1 413 181 7.75 3.40 0.80 .295

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Written by Amit Lal | 09 October 2011

The Arizona Diamondbacks' 2011 season ended with an extra-inning Game 5 defeat to the Brewers in the NLDS. But even with the defeat, the 2011 season must be viewed as an outstanding season for the team. This was a team coming off a 65-97 season in 2010, and expectations for the team were very low heading into 2011. I participate in Jim Baker's Predictatron, where contestants predict the final record of each team before the season. This year's contest had 40 players, including writers from ESPN, Sports Illustrated, and Baseball Prospectus, and only 1 out of 40 picked the team to finish over .500. The median projection was 73 Wins for the D'Backs, and most people's expectations moved even lower after the team went 12-25 in Spring Training. Yet somehow, the team improved by 29 Games in 2011. In the first of several articles recapping the season, let's start with an overview of how the team went from worst to first in a single season.

Year W-L Record NL West Rank Runs Scored Runs Allowed Pythag Record
2011 94-68 1st,  8 Games Up 731 662 88-74
2010 65-97 5th, 27 Games Back 713 836 69-93

The Diamondbacks offense was better in 2011 than in 2010, despite the loss of sluggers Mark Reynolds and Adam LaRoche. The 18 run improvement in offense is even more impressive considering that the NL average offense decreased by 33 runs in 2011. But the biggest improvement was in the Runs Allowed department, where the improvement was 174 runs. Overall, the team went from a -123 run differential to a +69 in one year. It is interesting to note that the Diamondbacks underperformed their Pythagorean record by 4 games last year, and out-performed it by 6 games this year.  This is consistent with having a bad bullpen in 2010, and a good one in 2011.

A closer look at the offensive components shows that the team actually was slightly worse in the AVG/OBP/SLG stats in 2011. In fact, the only obvious areas of improvement were in strikeouts, stolen bases, and grounding into double plays. Yet the overall result was an increase in runs scored by 18.

Year Runs AVG OBP SLG HR BB SO SB/CS GIDP OPS-RISP OPS-ROB
2011 731 .250 .322 .413 172 531 1249 133/55 82 .750 .770
2010 713 .250 .325 .416 180 589 1529 86/41 113 .824 .767

On the pitching side, the reasons for improvement are a little clearer. A lot fewer walks and home runs allowed in 2011, and also a slightly better BABIP, due to the lower line drive rate and a higher percentage of fly balls. And clearly, the bullpen was a big reason for the overall statistical improvement.

Year ERA RA/9 FIP WHIP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 Saves/BS BABIP
2011 3.80 4.13 4.02 1.286 6.60 2.76 0.99 58/13 .290
2010 4.81 5.25 4.76 1.432 6.72 3.44 1.32 35/24 .300

Over the next few articles, we will break down each aspect of the Diamondbacks' season, including batting, baserunning, fielding, starting pitching, and relief pitching.

Written by Amit Lal | 05 October 2011

The Diamondbacks got big performances from rookies Josh Collmenter and Paul Goldschmidt in Game 3 of the NLDS, and will now turn to veteran Joe Saunders in Game 4. Saunders is a tough pitcher to analyze, because he strikes out very few batters while giving up a decent amount of walks and home runs. What are some keys to success for Saunders?  He needs to get double plays, avoid first inning damage, and get the left-handed hitters out.

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Written by Amit Lal | 02 October 2011

Daniel Hudson has been one of the NL's best starters in 2011, finishing with a 16-12 record and a 3.49 ERA (3.28 FIP). But there are two problems that have plagued Hudson most of the season, and that he must avoid in Game 2 on Sunday against the Brewers.

1) First Inning Woes
In 33 starts, Hudson has given up a total of 27 runs (22 ER) in the first inning.  Batters are hitting .319/.386/.526 (912 OPS) against Hudson in the first, compared to .255/.301/.394 (694 OPS) overall. He has allowed 5 HR in the first, the most of any inning, and his 15 BB in the first are also the most of any inning.  Over his last 5 starts, he has given up first inning runs in 4 of them. Take away the first inning and Hudson's ERA improves from 3.49 all the way down to 3.05. With the Diamondbacks already down 1-0 in the series, the team can't afford to fall behind early.

2) Two-Strike Hits
For most pitchers, being ahead in the count is a good thing. But that hasn't been the case for Hudson in 2011. For National League pitchers as a group, batters are hitting .164 after a 0 Ball, 2 Strike count.  But for Hudson, hitters are at .254 after falling behind 0 and 2. Looking at the more general case of hitter's counts and pitcher's count, the numbers for Hudson are just as strange.

National League AVG OBP SLG
NL - Batter Ahead .299 .468 .490
NL - Even Count .268 .413 .413
NL - Pitcher Ahead .201 .296 .296
Daniel Hudson AVG OBP SLG
Hudson - Batter Ahead .228 .363 .401
Hudson - Even Count .272 .275 .423
Hudson - Pitcher Ahead .258 .270 .356

NL pitchers as a group only allow a .201 AVG when ahead in the count, compared to .268 on even counts and .299 when the batter is ahead. Hudson's numbers are backwards - he actually allows the fewest hits when the batter is ahead in the count. 

One possible cause for Hudson's unusual numbers may be his slider. On 0-2 counts, he has thrown the slider 25% of the time, compared to 16% overall. And it seems like that 0-2 slider is catching the plate a little too much. Usually pitchers try to make a batter chase a tough pitch on 0-2, but Hudson's 0-2 pitches may have been a little too hittable this year. Over the last few games, Hudson has done a better job in these situations, and he has been throwing a few more fastballs in those situations. It's something to keep an eye on in Sunday's crucial start.